Tractor driver appears in court following accident which killed three young children

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by Katelyn Thomas, CTV Montreal

A 38-year-old Quebec man was arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm following a tractor accident that killed three children under the age of five and seriously injured three more in a small town south of Montreal.

The driver of the tractor was arrested Wednesday night and appeared in court in Granby Thursday.

Police say alcohol may have played a role in the accident.

Police say six children and four adults were riding in the tractor shovel in Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge around 7 p.m. Wednesday when, for an unknown reason, they were ejected from the vehicle. 

“They were (then) injured by the tractor,” Sgt. Ingrid Asselin from the Sûreté du Québec told CTV Montreal. 

Two adults are in critical condition and two others only sustained minor injuries. It is still unclear whether those involved were members of the same family or a group of friends celebrating Canada Day together. 

The adults who sustained minor injuries will be questioned by investigators, and the tractor has been seized for analysis.

'How do you react to this?'

The mayor of the town where the accident occurred said Thursday his community was rattled by what had happened.

“The municipality, how do we react to this? You can’t react, this is drastic, it’s a slap in the face and you say 'Why did this happen?'" Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge Mayor Daniel Tetreault told CTV Montreal on Thursday.

Tetreault arranged for psychological help to be available in town on Thursday morning. 

"You have to think about the witnesses too, you’ll never forget seeing something like this," he said. 

A resident who lives near the site of the accident told CTV Montreal he heard the sirens down the road. 

"I figured, there’s a couple curves down there and it’s Canada Day, so probably a car accident or something," said Luc Perreault. "But it was a tractor accident; a lot of ambulances and police.”

Asselin pointed out that riding in the shovel of a moving tractor is illegal. 

"Tractors here are like trucks in Montreal," Tetreault said. "They’re everywhere. Sometimes people can be careless." 

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